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his commentary on the Gospels, the Acts and the Epistles, accompanied with the Greek text. Three of these manuscripts are still preserved. One of his manuscripts contained the Gospels, another the Acts and the Epistles, and the third only the Revelation; and another the whole New Testament, except the Revelation. He made many corrections, founded partly on the last mentioned manuscript, partly on his manuscript of Theophylact, partly on the authority of the Vulgate, and partly on his own conjecture.
The manuscripts of Erasmus are thought to be modern. In the Book of Revelation, he had no Greek document, but the manuscript from which he printed. Where that was thought inaccurate, he corrected from conjecture; and where it was defective, as at the end, where the last six verses were wanting, he supplied the deficiency by Greek of his own making, from the Latin Vulgate. He had also occasional recourse to the writings of Origen, Chrysostom and Cyril.
Erasmus was well qualified for his work by natural abilities, profound learning, a readiness in detecting errors, and indeed by every qualification requisite to produce critical sagacity. But in consequence of his engagement with the printer, he was obliged to prepare for the press a fresh sheet every day; and thus was compelled to make greater haste in the publication of his Greek Testament, than the novelty and iinportance of the subject should have permitted. His edition was prepared in nine months; in which time, he had also to correct a Latin version which he published in parallel columns, besides annotations. He was also at the same time engaged in publishing the works of Jerome. The reason of so much haste was, the desire of the bookseller to publish an edition before the Complutensian should be delivered to the public.
Three years aster the publication of the first edition, Erasmus published a second. In this, as he had opportunity of consulting other Greek manuscripts, and of receiving extracts from his friends, he made alterations amounting, according to Dr. Mill, to at least four hundred. In 1522, he published a third edition. In the fourth edition, published in 1527, he made use of the
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Complutensian edition; and by its aid corrected his text of the Revelation in ninety places. In all the other books, he corrected only twenty-six places.
In 1535, his fifth and last edition was published; but it differed from the fourth in only four places.
Between the first edition of Erasmus and his last, nine or ten were published by other persons; but all of them, excepting one, were taken, with a few alterations, from some one of the editions of Erasmus. The one which is excepted was that of Colinæus, printed at Paris in 1534. This was taken partly from the Complutensian and partly from the Erasmian edition, and partly from Greek manuscripts collated for the purpose. These manuscripts furnished, according to Dr. Mill, seven hundred and fifty readings which were found neither in the Complutensian edition nor in those of Erasmus. This edition of Colinæus was never reprinted ; and it has had no influence on modern editions.
Among the early editors of the New Testament, Robert Stephens holds a distinguished place. He was son-in-law to Colinæus, and was a learned bookseller and printer at Paris. His editions were distinguished for the neatness and splendor of their typographical execution, and were attended with great celebrity. He made great pretensions to critical research. His son Henry assisted him by collating sixteen codices, one of which was the Complutensian Bible. It is believed, however, that there was a want of accuracy and fidelity in the use of his manuscripts. The first edition of Robert Stephens, which was printed A. D. 1546, at Paris, is little more than a compilation from the Complutensian and the fifth edition of Erasmus. In 1549, was published his second edition, which was not materially different from the first.
In 1550, he published his principal edition, in folio. It was for this edition, the fifteen manuscripts and the Complutensian Bible were collated. It was once supposed to have been formed entirely from Greek manuscripts. It appears, however, that, excepting in the Book of Revelation, it is scarcely any thing more than a reprint of Erasmus's fifth edition. And even in the Apocalypse, where he departs from Erasmus, he departs only for the sake of Complutensian readings.
The outward beauties of this edition gave it popularity. There was also a religious motive which operated in its favor. The editor became a convert to the Protestant. cause, and fled from Paris to Geneva, in the neighborhood of Calvin and Beza. In England, in Holland, and in Switzerland, the edition was on this account highly esteemed.
The text, as published by R. Stephens, is essentially the same as that which is now in common use.
Next to R. Stephens, the edition of Beza is to be noticed. He too was a native of France, whence he fled to Switzerland on account of his religion. His critical materials were mostly the same as those of Robert Stephens. Besides, he had the advantage of the valuable manuscript of the Gospels and the Acts, which he afterwards presented to Cambridge University, England; and which is known by the name Codex Bezæ, or Codex Cantabrigiensis. He had also a very ancient manuscript of Paul's Epistles, which he procured from Clermont in France, known by the name Codex Claromontanus. In addition, he had the advantage of the Syriac version, which had lately been published by Tremellius with a close Latin translation. It is also supposed by Bishop Marsh, from the remarks of Beza, that Beza made use of a work which had been employed by Henry Stephens in his collation of manuscripts, in which work he had noted various readings. Instead, however, of applying his helps to the emendation of the text, he used them principally for polemical purposes in his notes. He amended Stephens's text in not more than fifty places; and even these emendations were not always founded on proper authority. His text first appeared in 1565. In 1576, his second edition was published ; and in 1582, his third edition, which was the most complete, and which he enriched with many various readings from the Codex Cantabrigiensis and the Codex Claromontanus. To the Greek text he added not only the Vulgate, but his own Latin translation and many notes. It was reprinted in 1589, and it is the edition from which the text of our common editions of the Greek Testament has been chiefly taken.
In 1624, was published the Elzevir edition, in which was established the text now in common use. It is not
known who conducted this edition; Elzevir was only the printer. The critical exertions of the editor were very much confined. The text was copied from Beza's, except in about fifty places; and in these, the readings were taken partly from the various readings in Stephens's margin, partly from other editions, but certainly not from Greek manuscripts.
Thus it appears that the Textus Receptus was copied, with a few exceptions, from the text of Beza. Beza closely followed Stephens; and Stephens, in his principal edition, copied solely from the fifth edition of Erasmus, except in the Apocalypse, where he followed sometimes Erasmus, sometimes the Complutensian edition. The Textus Receptus, then, resolves itself into the Complutensian and the Erasmian editions. But neither Erasmus nor the Complutensian editors printed from ancient Greek manilscripts; and the remainder of their critical apparatus included little more than the latest of the Greek fathers, and the Latin Vulgate.
§ 2. Critical Editions of the Greek TESTAMENT. In 1658, the edition of Curcellæus was published at Amsterdam. He printed the Textus Receptus; but connected with it a selection of various readings, very copious for the time and circumstances of the publication. The selection of various readings was derived partly from former collections, partly from printed editions, and partly from manuscripts collated for the purpose. Curcellæus has been suspected of attachment to the doctrines of Socinus, and has been accused of needlessly multiplying various readings, and of making them, from conjecture, so as to favor the Socinian scheme.
The edition of the Greek Testament, in the London Polyglott, is next in order. The preparation of this Polyglott is to be ascribed to Bishop Walton, who was assisted by several other distinguished scholars. It consists of six folio volumes, and the New Testament is accompanied with very valuable ancient versions, viz. : the Latin Vulgate, the Syriac, the Arabic and the Ethiopic, with the Persian in the Gospels. These oriental versions are accompanied with literal Latin translations. For this
edition, Archbishop Usher collated sixteen Greek manuscripts; extracts from which were published in the Polyglott, together with the various readings contained in Robert Stephens's folio edition of 1550. This attempt of Bishop Walton met with much opposition; in particular, Dr. John Owen distinguished himself by making an attack upon it. It is sufficiently natural to have been expected, that very good and very learned men, who had not devoted themselves to sacred criticism, should indulge groundless fears as to the consequences of collecting and exhibiting the various readings of Scripture.
The edition by Bishop Fell, of Oxford, appeared in 1675. Besides the London Polyglott, and the edition by Curcellæus, he used twelve Bodleian, four Dublin and two Paris manuscripts. He also added the extracts from twenty-two Greek manuscripts, which had been collated at Rome by order of Pope Urban VIII; and various readings from manuscripts of the Coptic and Gothic versions of the New Testament.
The design of Bishop Fell, in preparing his edition, was to quiet the alarms which had been excited by the great number of various readings printed in the sixth volume of the London Polyglott. Among many persons who were ignorant of sacred criticism, a suspicion had arisen that the New Testament was enveloped in obscurity, and that it must be a very imperfect standard of religious faith and duty. To convince such persons how little the sense of the New Testament was affected by the various readings, he printed them under the text, so that the reader might compare them.
This edition, though in itself at the present day it is of scarcely any importance, yet deserves to be remembered, as having given birth to Mill's celebrated edition. The generous spirit of its author induced him to communicate to Mill what he had collected himself, and to encourage the publishing of an edition which has brought his own into oblivion, and which is still highly valued among Biblical critics. The noble-minded bishop promised to defray the expense of printing. He was prevented by death, however, from accomplishing his purpose; for Mill was advanced in his publication no further than the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, when the world was deprived of this excellent man.
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